Miss Bennett – 1898 ch. f. by Russell – Memoria (GB) by Oxlip (GB)
“She was certainly a grand filly, take her all the way,” said Mr. Brown.
“She was, indeed,” responded Mr. Bennett.
Breeder: Milton Young (McGrathiana Stud, Lexington, KY)
Owner: George C. Bennett
Trainer: Henry McDaniel
RECORD: At least (35) 21-9-3; possibly up to 38 starts
1900: 1st Turf Congress S. (NTR-4f,Clinton Park), Memphis S. (ETR-5f,Montgomery Park), Debutante S. (4.5f,St. Louis), Lakeside S. (5f,WAS), Quickstep S. (ETR-4f,WAS), Lassie S. (5f,HAW), Petite S. (5f,Harlem); 2nd Graduate S. (6f,Harlem), Aspirant S. (4.5f,Harlem); 3rd Ardelle Sweepstakes (4f,Montgomery Park); Hawthorne S. (5f,HAW)
1901: 2nd Free Handicap (6f,HAW), Fleetwood S. (6f,HAW); 3rd Tennessee Oaks (1mi.,Montgomery Park)
NTR at Clinton Park (03/29/1900): 4f in :48 ¾ in the Turf Congress Stakes
NTR at Montgomery Park (04/24/1900): 4.5f in :55 ½
ETR at Montgomery Park (04/25/1900): 5f in 1:01 ¾ in the Memphis Stakes
ETR at Washington Park (07/05/1900): 4f in :48 in the Quickstep Stakes
NTR at Harlem (08/11/1900): 4.5f in :54
NTR at Hawthorne (09/01/1900): 6f in 1:12 ¾
Miss Bennett with George C. Bennett (possibly Henry McDaniel at left), 1901.
Photo: SDN-000426, Chicago Daily News negatives collection, Chicago History Museum.
THE EARLY YEARS
At a Lexington, KY dispersal of A. H. and D. H. Morris’ Texas bloodstock in late 1897, McGrathiana Stud’s Milton Young would acquire the young Oxlip (GB) mare Memoria (GB) for $275. Memoria, in foal to the Eolus stallion Russell, would produce a chestnut filly in early 1898.
Consigned to a Sheepshead Bay paddock sale in June 1899, Memoria’s filly, now a yearling, was purchased by Memphis turfman George C. Bennett for $750. She would later be given the name “Miss Bennett” in honor of Bennett’s daughter.
Shipped to Bennett’s training base at Newport, KY following the sale, the yearling Miss Bennett quickly drew notice during the fall of 1899, reportedly having worked a quarter of a mile in “exceptionally fast time.”
Henry McDaniel, 1904.
Photo: SDN-002274, Chicago Daily News negatives collection, Chicago History Museum
Now with Bennett’s house trainer Henry McDaniel, Miss Bennett would make her debut at Clinton Park (Little Rock, AR) in the Turf Congress Stakes (4f) on March 29. Winning by five lengths over Silverdale in :48 ¾, her final time was a new track record.
“Miss Bennett was much the best and was never fully extended. She showed dazzling speed and performed like a filly of high class.” (Chart notes as published in the Daily Racing Form, 03/30/1900)
“All of the returned horsemen from the Little Rock meeting are loud in their praise of Miss Bennett, G. C. Bennett’s young miss, by Russell-imp. Memoria. She is said to be a remarkably quick breaker and has speed to waste. One enthusiastic turfman, who has followed the destinies of the Little Rock track since Boundless won the Derby there in 1893, declared that Miss Bennett possessed more speed than Sulsan, Howland or Bannockburn, all of which received their baptism in racing silk at the Arkansas track.” (The Nashville American, 04/03/1900)
“In the opinion of good judges Miss Bennett is a better filly than May Hempstead was at this time in her career, and it is said she could have run a half mile at Little Rock in :47 ¾ when she won the stake for 2-year-olds at the Arkansas capital last week. It is also conceded she holds the early filly stakes at her mercy unless something should turn up in the races and show unexpected speed.” (Chicago Daily Tribune, 04/04/1900)
Miss Bennett’s second start would come in the Ardelle Sweepstakes (4f) at Montgomery Park (Memphis, TN) on April 12, where over the “slow and improving” course she would finish third by about three lengths to Lady Schorr and The Mecca.
“Miss Bennett, hitherto considered the fastest 2-year-old filly at the track, was a poor third, but had an excuse. She is a high strung filly, and acted nervous at the post, delaying the start six minutes.” (Chicago Daily Tribune, 04/13/1900)
Miss Bennett would return to winning ways in a 4.5 furlong race at Montgomery Park on April 21, defeating Sad Sam by six lengths in :57 ½. Three days later (April 24), she would win a 4.5 furlong purse by four lengths over Silverdale, setting a new track record of :55 ½, and then follow up on the effort the next day (April 25) with a two length win over Garry Hermann in the Memphis Stakes (5f), where her time of 1:01 ¾ would equal the track record.
“Miss Bennett made her own running and won as she pleased. This is undoubtedly the best filly that has shown up here thus far. She can handle weight, has phenomenal speed and seems to like to go a long route.” (Chart notes as published in the Daily Racing Form, 04/26/1900)
“When she ran five furlongs at Memphis in 1:01 ¾ she not only equaled the track record for the distance, but ran a second and a quarter faster than any other 2-year-old did over that course, yet some of the greatest horses America has seen have raced as a 2-year-old at Memphis, the mighty Ornament included.” (The Nashville American, 09/16/1900)
“Miss Bennett, George C. Bennett’s 2-year-old wonder, is not near as large as a filly as Lady Schorr, but what there is of her is all horse. Hugh R. Baker, the veteran trainer, says that Miss Bennett is one of the best looking fillies he ever laid his eyes on.” (Daily Racing Form, 05/24/1900)
While Miss Bennett has been the talk of the “western” tracks, the connections of the “far west” 2-year-old filly Sofala, who through the month of April already had a remarkable twelve wins on the season at Oakland and Tanforan, stated they believed she was better than Miss Bennett and they intended to come east.
Now at St. Louis, the “wonderfully speedy” Miss Bennett would win the Debutante Stakes (4.5f) on May 19 by six lengths over Clorita and Lady Schorr and a track rated slow.
Miss Bennett would suffer the second loss of her career at Hawthorne on June 2, finishing second over the “slow and improving” course to Fancywood (aka Fancy Wood) by two lengths in a five furlong allowance. Undeterred by the loss, railbirds claimed Miss Bennett was simply short and needed the race to round into form.
“Chicago had its first glimpse of the great Miss Bennett, and the initial view of her was not a pleasant one. To those who had not seen her race at Memphis, and who had not had the opportunity of enthusing over her performances there, she was a distinct disappointment. From the stories which the correspondents had sent out of Memphis, Chicago racing folks had got the notion that Miss Bennett was an individual of rare possibilities. When she came out for her preliminary the rail was lined with men anxious to see what sort she was. She was not in the least impressive in appearance, and when she worked through the stretch she galloped like one that had already been to the races too often and was not desirous of going there again. … Miss Bennett may be the great filly which the Southerners have claimed she is, but if their estimate of her is true, her race was not up to form. It may be said for her, however, that her people have not been able to do much with her recently, and she was hurried for this race. It is possible that a recent workout over the heavy Hawthorne track might have set her off.” (Chicago Daily Tribune, 06/03/1900)
Miss Bennett would once again fail to give her backers confidence following her performance in the Hawthorne Stakes (5f) on June 8, where over a track alternately described as “heavy and lumpy” and “nasty and sticky,” she would finish third by roughly five lengths to Silverdale and Invictus.
“Miss Bennett was giving away weight to everything in the race, and the delay at the post did her no good, as she is a fretful filly. She, at no part of the race, had a chance to beat Silverdale, and is hardly his equal in the mud.” (Chart notes as published in the Daily Racing Form, 06/09/1900)
Leaving Hawthorne and heading to Washington Park (Chicago, IL) to end the month, Miss Bennett would finally return to winning ways in the Lakeside Stakes (5f) on June 26, defeating Lady Schorr by three lengths in 1:02.
The Lakeside would mark the first matchup between Miss Bennett and her California rival Sofala. Barney Schreiber, the owner of Sofala, was so confident in his filly’s chances prior to the race that he proclaimed he was willing to bet $5,000 that Sofala would win. Sofala would ultimately finish fifth in the Lakeside, which would be the only time the two fillies would meet in competition.
In the Quickstep Stakes (4f) at Washington Park on July 5, Miss Bennett would defeat Harry Herendeen by three lengths in a track record equaling time of :48.
It was announced on July 15 that a sweepstakes between the top five 2-year-olds in the west (Harry Herendeen, Miss Bennett, Garry Hermann, Golden Age, Silverdale) would be held at Hawthorne on July 28. However, this race was later cancelled.
Over a track rated “heavy and improving” and under her highest assigned impost to date (123 lbs.), Miss Bennett would win the Lassie S. (5f) at Hawthorne on July 26 by four lengths over Fancywood (who was later disqualified).
“Miss Bennett yesterday won the Lassie Stakes at Hawthorne under circumstances that proved her to be a really first-class filly, certainly the best of her age in the West and worthy of attention anywhere. G. C. Bennett’s daughter of Russell was asked to give away fifteen pounds to several of her youthful sisters. None of them possessed a great deal of speed, and yet fifteen pounds is a good deal to horses at this age, especially on a muddy track. Yesterday the track was sticky. … The race shows that Miss Bennett can carry weight and run in the mud. Her ability on a hard track was already demonstrated, so she is a race horse.” (Chicago Daily Tribune, 07/27/1900)
Now at Harlem (Chicago, IL), Miss Bennett would win the Petite Stakes (5f) on August 9 by 1 ½ lengths over Bonnie Lissak and Fancywood in a final time of 1:00. “Miss Bennett is a speed marvel and undoubtedly the best two-year-old filly in training in the west today. She fairly flew in the first part of the journey and pulled up fresh and good without taking a long breath.” (Chart notes as published in the Daily Racing Form, 08/10/1900)
Returning in a 4.5 furlong allowance on August 11, over a track rated “fast, but a trifle cuppy,” Miss Bennett would defeat Money Muss by one length in a track record setting time of :54. “Miss Bennett had the hardest race of her career. She was giving away a lot of weight and the track conditions were against her. At the eighth post it seemed that Money Muss would win, but Miss Bennett hung on like a leech and made Money Muss quit.” (Chart notes as published in the Daily Racing Form, 08/12/1900)
“This remarkable filly has now started thirteen times and won ten races and finished second once and third twice in her remaining three starts. These latter defeats were all accomplished on a heavy track, a sort of going she does not fancy any too well. She has never suffered defeat on a good track. … No other 2-year-old filly ever held as many records in the annals of racing. …” (The Nashville American, 09/16/1900)
“In the ten races she has won she has never been brought to a drive, and on a fast track she seems absolutely invincible. Good judges who have seen them all race believe Miss Bennett is even the superior of Commando, Ballyhoo Bey and the other great 2-year-olds of the Eastern world.” (The Nashville American, 09/16/1900)
Remaining at Harlem, the first of September would mark Miss Bennett’s first start against older horses in a six furlong all age race. Carrying a lightweight 82 lbs., she would set a track record for six furlongs in the win, running the distance in 1:12 ¾.
She would then finish second by two lengths to Joe Frey in the Graduate Stakes (6f) on September 6 and second by three lengths to Joe Frey in the Aspirant Stakes (4.5f) on September 11. Joe Frey’s time of :54 in the Aspirant would equal the track record set by Miss Bennett back on August 11.
OCTOBER – DECEMBER 1900
Miss Bennett’s final start of 1900 came in a 5.5 furlong purse at Kinloch Park (St. Louis, MO) on October 13, where she would defeat Frank Bell for the win.
“Miss Bennett, Dick Burgess, Hand Squeeze and seventeen yearlings will be shipped from St. Louis to Memphis in a few days, where they will be quartered until February. They will then be shipped to Clinton Park, Little Rock, Ark., where they will be prepared for next year’s racing. … The stable had a very successful year, having won fifty-five races, including 12 stakes, which were won by Miss Bennett.” (The Nashville American, 11/3/1900)
With $12,335 in earnings, Miss Bennett ends the year as the top earning 2-year-old filly and tenth highest earning overall 2-year-old of 1900.
FEBRUARY – APRIL 1901
On February 2, the early odds for April’s Tennessee Oaks (1 mi.) at Montgomery Park are released. Lady Schorr is installed as the 3-1 favorite, with Miss Bennett and Lady Strathmore co-second choices at 4-1.
Miss Bennett’s first start of 1901 comes in a 6 furlong purse at Montgomery Park on April 12, where she would best a field of six that included Silverdale and Lady Strathmore. Four days later (April 16), she would make her first attempt at a distance greater than six furlongs in the Tennessee Oaks (1 mi.). This attempt would be unsuccessful, as she would finish last in the three horse field. Lady Schorr would win, with Lady Strathmore taking the place.
“The general opinion after the race was that Miss Bennett is nothing more than a sprinter.” (Chicago Daily Tribune, 04/17/1901)
MAY – AUGUST 1901
Miss Bennett would bounce between the Chicago, IL area tracks (Harlem, Hawthorne, Washington Park, Worth) during the summer of 1901.
Having been shipped to Worth in late April, she won a 5.5 furlong selling race on May 6, defeating Kenilworth by 2 ½ lengths. She would then finish second by two lengths to The Rush in a five furlong allowance on May 11.
“Miss Bennett looked finer than silk and scored in a high class way. For her size she is a grand filly. Coburn seems to understand her and rode a perfect race, hugging the rail throughout and saving every inch of ground possible.” (Chart notes as published in the Daily Racing Form, 05/07/1901)
At Washington Park, after reportedly stopping badly during the race, Miss Bennett would finish second in a six furlong allowance by four lengths to Isia on June 28. She would then defeat Burnie Bunton by 2 ½ lengths in a six furlong allowance on July 9, and best The Rush by 1 ½ lengths in a six furlong allowance on July 12. Ending the month at Hawthorne, she would win a six furlong allowance by two lengths over Admonition on July 22, and remain at Hawthorne for the Free Handicap (6f) on August 3, where she would finish second by one length to George Arnold.
Now back at Harlem, she would defeat Burnie Bunton twice in a five day span, besting the mare in a six furlong allowance on August 5, and (by a nose) in a six furlong allowance on August 10.
Burnie Bunton at Worth, 1902.
Photo: SDN-000633, Chicago Daily News negatives collection, Chicago History Museum.
SEPTEMBER – OCTOBER 1901
Still at Harlem, she won a six furlong allowance on September 2 by one length over Henry of Trastamare and then turn in a sixth place finish behind winner Maggie Davis in the Garden City Stakes (6f) on September 7.
Maggie Davis in Chicago, 1901.
Photo: SDN-000332, Chicago Daily News negatives collection, Chicago History Museum.
Off of the poor effort in the Garden City, Miss Bennett would return to winning ways in a six furlong allowance run in a “rainstorm and ankle deep mud” at Harlem on September 11, defeating Burnie Bunton by a half-length. “Miss Bennett finished stoutly through the last eighth and outgamed Burnie Bunton in the closing strides. Her victory was a surprise, as she was supposed not to run well in the sloppy going.” (Chart notes as published in the Daily Racing Form, 09/12/1901)
At Hawthorne for her next two races, Miss Bennett would finish second by a head to Maggie Davis in the Fleetwood Stakes (6f) on September 16 and second by a neck to The Pride in a 6.5 furlong allowance on September 20.
The Pride’s time of 1:19 ½ on September 20 equaled the track record, and was just off the world record of 1:19 set by Sly at Harlem in June 1900. “The Pride laid along second to Miss Bennett up to the last sixteenth, where he moved up on even terms and the two fought it out desperately to the wire. It was just about a sixteenth further than Miss Bennett likes to go.” (Chart notes as published in the Daily Racing Form, 09/21/1901)
In what were to be her final two races of the season before heading south for the winter, Miss Bennett finished second to Money Muss in a five furlong race at Harlem on October 5 and fourth in the Speed Stakes (6f) at Harlem on October 7.
While en route from Harlem to Bennett’s winter base at Montgomery Park, Miss Bennett and her stablemate Abe Frank, himself a leading 2-year-old on the year, would become ill, with both cases worsening to pneumonia by the time they arrived in Memphis.
“Miss Bennett was reported dying this afternoon. Dr. Scheibler denied that her condition was so serious as this, but admitted entertaining grave doubts as to the filly’s recovery. The first symptoms of pneumonia developed Monday, and everything known to veterinary science has been done to save her. Like her great stable companion Abe Frank, Miss Bennett caught cold during the trip to Memphis.” (Chicago Daily Tribune, 11/02/1901)
While Abe Frank would fortuitously recover, Miss Bennett’s burden was too great, and she would ultimately pass away at Montgomery Park on November 3.
“George C. Bennett’s 3-year-old race mare, Miss Bennett, by Russell-Memoria, died to-day of lung fever. The crack 2-year-old Abe Frank, reported in critical condition last night from the same disease, will probably recover.
Miss Bennett was a pet with owners, trainers, jockeys, stable boys, and all habitués of the Memphis running track. George Bennett had never put a money value on the filly. One offer of $15,000 was turned down without a moment’s consideration.” (The Nashville American, 11/03/1901)
“G. C. Bennett’s good filly, Miss Bennett, died today at Montgomery Park. She was buried within the track inclosure, and her grave marks the resting place of the only thoroughbred at the track.” (Chicago Daily Tribune, 11/03/1901)
“…Miss Bennett, the speedy filly whose memory is immortal to the Bennett family and as green as the floral offerings placed on the mare’s grave each week by the miss for whom she was named” (Chicago Daily Tribune, 01/26/1902)
“Mr. Bennett feels the loss of his great 3-year-old filly, Miss Bennett, who died last fall, very sorely, and as the filly was also a great favorite with Henry Brown, of the Climas, the latter and Mr. Bennett condoled with each other much over her untimely demise.
“She was certainly a grand filly, take her all the way,” said Mr. Brown.
“She was, indeed,” responded Mr. Bennett.” (The Nashville American, 07/10/1902)
“After her death Mr. Bennett did not take interest in any particular horse he owned, treating them all alike.” (The Nashville American, 05/21/1907)